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Notre Dame Basketball: Colorado Preview

Irish hoops will look to improve to 4-0 on Monday night against Colorado in the opening game of the Legends Classic.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If Notre Dame football has you down in the dumps, cheer up because basketball season is about to get into full swing over the next couple of weeks. The Irish play the likes of Iowa, Villanova, Purdue, and potentially Texas or Northwestern in the next few weeks.

The Irish have cruised to three easy wins to start the season, but will face their first test on Monday night as they take on the Buffaloes of Colorado. Colorado isn’t Duke or Kentucky, but compared to the first three opponents Notre Dame has faced they will pose more of a challenge.

When: Monday, November 21, 2016, 7:00pm ET.

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

How to Watch: ESPN2 or WatchESPN

Colorado Buffaloes (3-0)

The Buffs are coming off a season that ended with an NCAA Tournament appearance. While the Buffalos did lose their leading scorer from last season, they return many pieces including their second and third leading scorer in Josh Fortune and George King. Colorado is currently 3-0 and has a common opponent with Notre Dame. The two teams have both played Seattle. The Irish blew out the Redhawks by 43 points, while the Buffs squeaked out a win by 12.

Colorado is one of the best rebounding teams in the nation. The Buffs averaging 50 boards a game, which is good for fifth in the NCAA. Not only is Colorado an outstanding rebounding team, but they also play lock down defense. The Buffaloes are 14th in the nation in defensive efficiency. That’s the name of Colorado’s game, grab boards and play defense. That will be quite the test as Notre Dame has been one of the best offensive teams in the country to date.

Buffaloes to Watch

Josh Fortune - 6’5”, Senior, Guard

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Colorado vs Connecticut Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The former Providence Friar was third on the team in scoring last year and now is the leader in that department. Fortune paces the Buffaloes with 12.3 points per game. He’s shooting 44% from the field and 36% from behind the arc. The Irish should try and attack Fortune on offense. He’s averaging close to four personal fouls a game. If the Irish can get him into foul trouble, Colorado could be in trouble because Fortune is one of the Buffs’ few offensive weapons.

Wesley Gordon - 6’9”, Senior, Forward

The Irish are going to have their hands full with Gordon. Notre Dame is not only thin, but their also small on the front line. Gordon won’t provide much on the offensive, but where he can make a difference is on the glass. He’s averaging 11.7 boards a game. Martinas Geben will likely draw the matchup with Gordon. This matchup be a pretty good measuring stick to see how Geben will stack up against formidable post players.

Derrick White - 6’5”, Senior, Guard

White is a senior transfer from Colorado-Colorado Springs. As UCCS he was one of the best players in Division II. In three seasons he averaged 22 points per game and shot nearly 49% from the field. He was also named the programs first All-American. He definitely has he ability to fill it up on the stat sheet. So far he’s only averaging 12 points a game for the Buffaloes, but he is still a guy Notre Dame needs to keep in check.

Pick to Click

Bonzie Colson - 6’5”, Junior, Forward

NCAA Basketball: Seattle at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

In almost every game Colson plays he’s going to be overmatched in terms of size, but he’s shown time and time again that doesn’t really matter. He always seems to find a way to get his.

So far this season Colson is off to a hot start. He and V.J. Beachem have formed quite the duo. Both are averaging close to 20 points a game. Last game I picked Beachem, so to switch things up a bit I’ll go with Colson against Colorado.

Prediction

Notre Dame 73 - Colorado 66

I don’t see the Irish scoring at the pace they have been. It’s hard to keep up that 80-90 point pace, especially against a team that’s as good defensively as Colorado. That being said I still like Notre Dame to come away with a victory.

Notre Dame is the more complete team. Through three games the Irish have been elite offensively and defensively. (7th in offensive efficiency and 10th in defensive efficiency). Colorado is great defensively, but pretty pedestrian when it comes to offense. (14th in defensive efficiency, 79 in offensive.)

I like Notre Dame’s experience as well as their bench players. Beachem and Colson will keep up their hot play and the Irish will get the winner of Northwestern and Texas in the championship game of the Legends Classic.